Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Mind of Christ - Paradise Lost?


Phil.2: 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

When we speak about examples and templates, these verses reveal an astounding truth which is deeper than any human mind can comprehend. Just the incarnation itself is unfathomable. But to understand that God in the flesh came to die at the hands of sinful man and suffer both the indignity and the excruciation of the cross is beyond us. Yes, we can understand it theologically but we can never fully comprehend the profound nature of such a narrative. Just the fact that God is a spirit cannot be defined in human terms so how are we to come to grips with the incarnate passion?

And just when we are spellbound and overcome with unspeakable emotion concerning the sacrifice of Jesus our Lord, then we are presented with this almost insurmountable exhortation, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. What? To understand the enormity of the condescension as God became a man and died for His enemies is one challenge, but to emulate that revelation is a seemingly unachievable journey. But still that is where the Spirit is leading. And that is a place of such sacred humility that it boggles any mind that fully comprehends what is being asked of us.

This kind of humility goes way beyond allowing a person to jump ahead of you in a grocery line, or letting someone take the last piece of cake, or thanking your teammates for your award. In fact this kind of divine humility cannot even be considered among all the earthly definitions of humility. This kind of humility must be sought diligently just to grasp the principle even in part. And when you have clearly understood the enormous nature of such a quest, then the task of practical implementation presents a challenge which is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and completely at odds with what the culture demands. And the church almost completely ignores the subject, and when it does address humility the teachings are embarrassingly self serving and tepid.

But to walk in the mind of Christ, and that being translated into actions and words, is a great mystery. But even if you desire to just explore that mystery you will have to disconnect with the institutional church. Since the institutional church has lost any sense of such hallowed spiritual ground it can only hinder any genuine pursuit of living in the power of Christ’s humble love and sacrifice. Only in a spiritual environment that is free from the pressure of the accepted and the ecclesiastical norm can we seek that which has been lost and remains fully hidden by the western evangelical construct, practice, and teachings.

Imagine the sacrifice revealed when one person gives his life for another. Then imagine that person is giving his life for his enemy. But as breathtaking as that scenario is, imagine that the person giving his life is God the Creator. No human can fully grasp what that entails, however we can seek to understand. But in today’s utilitarian atmosphere the mind of Christ is defined as being pro-life, pro traditional marriage, and fiscally conservative. That not only completely misses the point, but it is an affront to what Christ sacrificed. And it dilutes and dismantles the exhortation to all who seek to follow and be like Jesus. It is like presenting a mile run and allowing a person to take two steps and declaring it a finished race.

What place would politics find in a life which walked in such humility? What place would divorce have? Where would the self esteem gospel be when presented with the mind of Christ? The prosperity gospel? If the church sought to think and live with the mind of Christ how dramatic would it change us personally and collectively? I do not speak froma perfect personal experience for if I suggested I was acquainted with such humility I would most certainly be a liar. But what I do suggest is that there is a spiritual expanse which remains untapped and which holds the precious jewels contained in the Person and Spirit of Jesus Christ.

What I am suggesting is that the very core of the Christian life has been decimated by the designs of men who have treated the church like a business. They have used it as a political and moral force rather than a threshing floor which continually sifts the believers, removing the chaff, and sending them forth as sheaves of wheat always growing and always dying. We have lost sight of what it means to follow Jesus. Our definition of following Jesus is now earthly and encumbered with all kinds of temporal cares. Instead of being living sacrifices we now are moral and political and patriotic forces with which to be reckoned. And this is a great tragedy.

Have you died? Tell me where and when you died. I do not speak of your original conversion since that took place in the Spirit, but when and where have you laid down your desires, your cravings, your opinions, your perspectives, and your very life? Jesus comes in the form of one of His enemies and dies for them as well. Can that be said of us? Did complaints come from your lips last month? How many professing believers murmured and complained and criticized during the month of March but were heard through those same lips singing praises on “Easter” morning? It most curious this thing we call “church” is it not? We can be faithful to an organization while being unfaithful to its founder.

And so it is that a beaten and bruised figure drags His own instrument of death to His own place of execution. He is bloodied beyond recognition and although already dying He is still being mocked and cursed. He has done nothing wrong and He knows it. In fact, He is going to die for the ones who now mock Him. And all the while He has it in His power to stop this madness and destroy His enemies. But He chooses to love those who hate Him.

And therein lies the exhortation and the challenge which has so easily been dismissed as it pertains to being a disciple of Jesus. We have made discipleship an aptitude test of the Christian tenants and a doctrinal SAT exam which can be passed with paper and pen. But in reality, it is not how well you can explain the incarnation and the redemptive qualities of Golgotha’s sacrifice, but how do those eternal realities find their expression through the living prism of your being. We can impute doctrinal truths into a computer and have them printed out, but we are commanded to translate those truths into words and deeds that are mirrors of divine incandescence.

And presented with that monumental but incontrovertible exhortation do we beseech our Heavenly Father day and night for His power to accomplish His will? Are we filled with the responsibility to be Jesus in this present world? Do we hunger and thirst for more revelation about what it means to be Jesus within the intersection of the spiritual and the practical? Do we hate the flesh and all its attempts to foist itself upon us? Do we reject the sound of our own voice in favor of the voice of God? If we have been called to walk with the same mind as the crucified Christ then how can we be content with being one in a long line of Sunday morning lemmings whose lives reflect the narcissism that defines the culture?
Can we defend our rights and defend the Constitution and still be like Jesus? Can we spew demeaning words about sinners and still be like Jesus? Can we tout our own heterosexual righteousness and still be like Jesus? Can we press our economic rights and still be like Jesus? Can we form moral cliques and still be like Jesus? Can we make fun of people and still be like Jesus? Can we allocate our allegiance on different levels and still be like Jesus? 

Can we say we believe in Jesus and not be like Jesus? Is that enough to please God? Is that enough to reach others? If you are affirmed by your local church, is that enough and does that reflect the Scriptures? Is that what your Lord and Savior is worth? What have we done to the Christian faith when almost anyone who mumbles some profession of faith is declared saved and ready for heaven? And tens of thousands of churches view baptism and tithing and church attendance as the acceptable marks of a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, but humility, to say nothing of the humility found in Philippians chapter two, is rarely even a pulpit topic much less a pew manifestation.

Yes, the church has come a long way, but we have come a long way on our own.


Radiance said...

I find this post extremely timely and.convicting...what I admire are those great saints who were incredibly humble yet held a high enough esteem of the God they stood for and represented to not just give into society's degradation of them...I am thinking of figures like Martin Luther King, who preached love of enemy yet demanded rights and equality.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

What grieves me is that we have so few godly teachers who see this, and it's a challenge to have to live it out alone; it's evident for me I can't rely on others to keep my conviction in check; it's now my total responsibility to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, and that sometimes is not easy.

I'm finding that switching my reliance from men to God only is feeling almost like leaving an addiction, where there is world withdrawal symptoms. I'm trying to keep my eyes on Jesus and stay focused, yet the old need to rely on the man of God, or a pastor, or minister or church body, sometimes pulls me both ways. And there would be nothing wrong with us depending on one another in the Body of Christ and allowing ourselves to submit to our spiritual elders, but unfortunately, more and more of our spiritual elders are losing their grasp.

While watching the "10 Commandments" for the 100th time, I thought about the people being led toward the Promised land but through the wilderness first. And I thought about the actual pillar of fire and thought, this sounds so mythical and fantasy-like, but it DID actually happen, and to think that the Lord opened the Red Sea and spoke to Moses and tells Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" and the people witnessing the thunder flashes, the sound of the trumpet, mountain smoking and thick darkness and miraculous manisfestations. These people witnessed great manifestations of God's power and rescue and soon after complain and murmur and set up golden calf idols.

But like the humans that we are, soon after the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives, lose sight and humility and we look to men as idols.

And imagining Jesus giving His life for his enemy is something the christian community finds offensive, it seems. And how does this affect us; can the different parts and members of the Body of Christ work together if some refuse to die to self and won't admit a fault or admit they prefer to just forgive their friends, but not their enemies. There is a schism in the Body and all the parts aren't working together. Will they ever work together before He comes again?

I've heard few christian leaders publicly repenting, or publicly admitting fault, or publicly asking for forgiveness, or asking those who they mock for forgiveness. Even the Pope washed the feet of others, in remembrance of Jesus washing his disciples feet. It's so unfortunate that the church's growing attitude is not of being servants and humbling oneself to wash the feet of others, but condemn others and expect others to revere them.

Kim said...

We do need teachings like this. There is so little preaching that really brings about real conviction of our sin, but here in this quiet corner, I am often convicted. Thank you for allowing God to speak to us through you.

I am convicted. Thank you, Lord, for working in me. I know you are, and you alone know what I am talking about. Please keep humbling me, and help me to keep seeing that what you're doing is helping me to be more like you.

I'm trying, Lord; not by might, nor by my strength, but by YOUR spirit, Lord, little-by-little, inch-by-inch, day-by-day, I am seeing ever so slightly a closer resemblance to you.

Keep my eyes on you alone, let me gaze only on your beauty, your truth and let me reflect just a little bit of it out to those I walk among. You are beautiful beyond description; too marvelous for words; too wonderful for comprehension, like something never seen or heard. Who can grasp your infinite wisdom; who can fathom the depth of your love. Majesty enthroned above, and I stand, I stand in awe of you. I stand, I stand in awe of you. Holy God to whom all praise is due, I stand in awe of you...This is paradise found!

And to think that someday we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is!

Praise God for HIS great plan, His love and mercy.